Kerala

HC rejects bail petitions of accused in tree felling case

Observing that prima facie, the accused in the Muttil tree felling case had attempted to cut and remove the royal trees and misappropriate the valuable assets of the State, the Kerala High Court turned down the bail pleas of the four accused in the case.

Dismissing the bail petitions of Anto Augustine, Josekutty Augustine, Roji Augustine, and Vineesh, Justice Shircy V. observed that the gravity of the offences alleged against these petitioners was grave and serious in nature as they had illegally cut and attempted to remove very valuable and royal trees, the assets of the State.

“Prima facie, it appears that some government officials expected to work with absolute sincerity joined hands with the petitioners to do this illegal act and caused loss to the tune of ₹8 crore to the State,” the court said.

Rejecting the argument of the counsel for the petitioners that recovery of almost all the rosewood logs had been effected and, therefore, no loss had been caused to the State, the judge observed that prima facie it appeared that they had destroyed the assets of the State and, in fact, “caused untimely death to the royal trees, expected to remain in our State as our assets for decades, which could not be assessed or predicted at this stage.”

So, effecting recovery of the logs cut down illegally was not at all a ground to view the criminal act done by them lightly.

Opposing the bail pleas, senior public prosecutor Sreeja V. submitted that the accused were highly influential and if they were released on bail, there was every possibility of their tampering with the evidence by using their political power and money.

The court further observed that taking into consideration the nature of the accusation, the seriousness of the offences committed, reasonable apprehension of tampering with the evidence, and most importantly the larger interest of the State and public, the court was reluctant to exercise its judicial discretion to grant bail in favour of the petitioners.

The prosecution case was that the petitioners along with the other accused illegally and deceitfully had cut 204.635 cubic meters of rosewood trees worth ₹8 crore from the assigned land in Muttil South in Wayanad without the permission of the Revenue Department. The petitioners have been in custody since their arrest on July 28.


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 8:08:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-rejects-bail-petitions-of-accused-in-tree-felling-case/article36715902.ece

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